In our journey through the Bible, we move now from stories about Paul to a letter from Paul. This letter is to the church in the Roman city of Philippi, the location for the events in Acts 16:16-34, the reading for April 22nd. Written later in his ministry, probably during his imprisonment in Rome, this is primarily a letter of giving thanks and encouragement.
Giving Thanks in Prayer
After the standard letter opening (from whom, to whom, greeting), Paul moves directly into sharing with the Philippians his prayers for them. He is not one to help establish a church and move on, not thinking about them again. Instead, he takes the time to pray for and about them, as well as writing them a letter. Paul shares his prayers for them balancing giving thanks and petitioning God for their continued growth in Christ. He gives thanks for their actions, both sharing in the gospel and holding him in their hearts. From Paul’s perspective, the seeds his ministry planted are growing well to the blessing of the church and to God. For this he is grateful.
Giving Thanks for God’s Work
I see a contrast here between the church in Philippi and that is Galatia. Paul’s letter to the Galatians is filled with rebuke and correction, as they have left what he had taught them. Conversely, Paul’s letter to the Philippians is filled with joyful giving thanks and encouraging teaching. That church is growing well. Paul planted the seeds and God gave the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). This growth, in part, manifests in the church’s continued support of Paul, for which he gives thanks to God. He sees God’s work clearly.
Giving Thanks for Others (Free Resource)
Although Paul doesn’t say it directly, we can see here a call for us to also maintain a habit of giving thanks in prayer. This faith practice requires us to pay attention to the people around us and in our past, whose actions have helped, supported, and encouraged us in our faith journey. This week’s free resource, “Giving Thanks” is an activity that helps participants of all ages think about those people for whom they are thankful, tell their stories, and give thanks for them in prayer. This activity comes from our Living the Word: Small Groups product and can be used in groups of any age, but also can be used in a cross+generational setting like worship.
-Gregory Rawn (Publisher)
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